Clearly U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill has never seen Bring it On.
The federal judge ruled Wednesday that competitive cheerleading is not an official sport—at least not as far as Title IX’s gender-equity requirements go.
He ruled that Quinnipiac University—which was planning on cutting the women’s volleyball team and replacing it with a cheerleading squad because of budget restrictions—could not count a cheering squad as a sporting team to maintain gender-equity. The members of the volleyball team were the ones who filed the lawsuit against the school, with the help of American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut. Along with the judge, the NCAA also doesn’t recognize competitive cheerleading as a varsity sport.
To be considered a sport under Title IX—which was passed in 1972 and mandates equality in men and women’s athletics—an activity must have coaches, practices, competitions and a governing organization.
According to the Associated Press, Judge Underhill wrote that cheerleading “is still too underdeveloped and disorganized to be treated as offering genuine varsity athletic participation opportunities for students.”
Um, what sort of cheerocracy is this?
Yet, while this may seem like an attack on cheerleading in general, this was not the only complaint against the university’s treatment of women’s athletics. Judge Underhill also ruled that many of Quinnipiac’s practices—such as overstating the numbers of female athletes and underreporting the numbers of male ones—were a violation of Title IX.
Now depending on your view of cheerleading as a competitive sport, this is either a victory for women’s athletics or a loss. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.